When people talk about estate planning and guardianships, they’re often referencing children. When a young married couple has their first child, for instance, they may create an estate plan that names a guardian who will raise their child if they pass away. They know that their child needs this protection for the next 18 years.
But what about adults? Could they need a guardian? For instance, if one of your parents has Alzheimer’s and the other one has already passed away, does the parent with Alzheimer’s need to have their own guardianship as part of their estate plan?
Guardianships are used for vulnerable adults
When vulnerability is an issue, perhaps because of a degenerative brain disease or an injury, guardianships can be used for elderly adults — or even for younger adults. The goal is to make sure that they remain safe and that they have trusted assistance with important decisions. The guardian will also work hard to ensure that the person under their care:
- Has a living situation that is both dignified and safe
- Can get the medical care that they need
- Is not being exploited financially by anyone
- Has a long-term caregiver who genuinely cares about their best interests
A guardianship is not the only way to address these issues. For instance, someone who needs help with medical care could have a medical power of attorney allowing a trusted agent to make decisions on their behalf. However, this can be an important part of an estate plan, and it is wise for the family members involved to know exactly what legal options they have.